The most recent CIAA Basketball Tournament was not only successful for conference champions Elizabeth City State and Winston-Salem State but for the host city, too.
The tournament’s second year in Baltimore received rave reviews from players, coaches, and even the league commissioner.
“It’s magic. It’s been great,” CIAA commissioner Jacqie McWilliams told The Baltimore Sun. “It’s everything that as a leader with a passion for this conference you could have hoped for, that people feel loved and connected, that we see them and they see us, that they hear us and we hear them. We’re celebrating everything that’s great about our HBCU schools.”
The tournament moved to Baltimore in 2021 after 15 years in Charlotte, North Carolina. Last June, Baltimore officials and the CIAA agreed to maintain the basketball tournament in the city through the 2025 season.
In 2022, the tournament drew 66,000 fans and had a total economic impact of $19.6 million, according to Visit Baltimore. Figures for this year’s tournament have yet to be released.
Winston-Salem State coach Cleo Hill Jr., who led the Rams to its second conference title since 2020, was pleased with the environment in and around Baltimore.
“I thought Baltimore did a great job,” Hill said. “The improvements they made, they were visible. I thought throughout the city, you could see that the CIAA Tournament was here.”
Said McWilliams about the feedback the conference has received from schools involved in the tournament:
“I think they are seeing the experience that our student-athletes are having, that their fans and alumni are having, and the ones they are having themselves,” she said. “We’ve heard nothing but good positive feedback, and I believe they will take a very serious look at revisiting this opportunity, and we’ll see if they get that extension for 2026 or beyond.”